Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

Do you struggle to understand your partner at times? Maybe when you met and were freshly in love, the fact that you were different was exciting and interesting. But when the novelty wears off, it’s easy to move from admiring a particular trait to finding it irritating or “wrong.”

This can then become a place where you don’t see eye to eye, your frustrations rub up against each other and you get stuck in the same argument over and over again.

If only he or she could see it your way… things would be so much easier. Often you are convinced that the way you go about things is the right or better way.

I hear about this dilemma during  couples counselling and marriage therapy in my Burnaby counselling office all the time.

If you don’t agree and often get frustrated when discussing certain areas of your life together, you are most likely being confronted with a difference in core value.

Core values are the foundation of who you are and how you choose to show up in the world. They impact your decision making process and are the reasoning behind your choices. Shared core values can contribute to great harmony in a relationship, and differences can be an endless source of misunderstandings and / or judgements.

Let’s look at a concrete example:

Do you ever find yourself thinking that your spouse is anal, neurotic or just plain controlling and anxious?

Or are you the one who can sometimes feel like your partner is lazy, too laid back or even somewhat irresponsible?

Whether you like to play first and then use that energy to get your work done, or if you learned that first you do your homework and then you play… how  you experience work and play is about core values.

The most important thing to remember  when you find yourself at the opposite end of the spectrum – in this case responsibility first or enjoyment first – is that neither one of you is right or wrong. Neither core value is better or worse than the other.

It’s when you get caught up in a critical stance of the other person being wrong somehow, that you get stuck in arguments.

What you can do:

  • Discuss your core values and concretely identify where you stand. A great resource for this conversation  is the work of Brent Atkinson, Ph.D at  the
  • Be curious – learn about how or where your partner learned about his or her core values and how she or he feels when the preferred way of approaching life is challenged or compromised
  • Agree and continue to remind yourself that your spouse is not wrong… you are both right and both entitled to honour your core value.
  • Discuss how and where you can compromise – in other words how can you avoid butting heads all the time, what would each one of you be comfortable to settle for or live with
  • Have compassion for each other and this process of being different. The desire or need to do things a certain way is attached to specific anxieties.


Remember, your spouse is not the enemy just because he or she likes to do it differently.

With some compassion, curiosity and humour you can use your differences to create balance and come up with innovative ideas of sharing life together.

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